Dealing with Alzheimers disease in a parent can be a rather over-whelming experience, to say the least.
-Alzheimers can be challenging at best, heart breaking at its worst.
And this is not only for the patient, but for the alzheimers caregiver as well.
My family and I would like to share a few of our past memories, as well as pass along a few alzheimers caregiver tips we've learned along the way.
-There are some simple things that you can do to make dealing with alzheimers just a little easier for them, and for yourself as well.
An Alzheimers patient will often get either very sad or very angry, and even mean at times, due to feelings of frustration that they experience when certain things don't make sense to them.
-In order to help make sure mom or dad does not become this way and doesn't get too overwhelmed, it's often best to limit their choices
- try to keep them as simple as possible.
For example, if you're helping mom get dressed, don't give her a lot of outfits to choose from, depending on their stage of alzheimers, you may even want to make the choice for them, rather than asking them what they would like to wear. It may just confuse them, and quite possibly upset them.
Also, it's often best when dealing with alzheimers, to speak to them slowly, using sentences that are very straightforward and easy for them to understand, as their ability to comprehend normally may often be quite diminished.
-Be as patient as possible, it can be hard at times, but remember they're not trying to drive you crazy - they can't help it!
Our mom used to like to wash the dishes, and she would use so much soap that often you could still taste it in the glasses.
-To solve this problem, we would thin out the detergent with water, rather than taking the job away - she just needed to feel useful!
Because folks dealing with alzheimers often have a tendency to wander, it is very important to keep an eye open, because like a child they can be there one minute and gone the next.
-Try to be sure that the doors of the home remain locked at all times. (yes, when you're home) This will help ensure their safety by making it more difficult for them to wander off on their own.
Our mom always wanted to "go home" and she did wander off a few times before we learned.
We were fortunate to have good neighbors that watched her for us as well -and brought her back home safely on more than one occasion.
Unfortunately since alzheimers is a very progressive disease, there will come a time when you no longer feel you can deal with alzheimers and effectively manage your loved ones daily care and ever more demanding needs.
-When this happens, and it will, you'll want to look into placing your mom or dad in a facility that is properly staffed and specifically prepared in dealing with an alzheimers patient.
-This is important, because not all are.
It is not uncommon for sons and daughters dealing with alzheimers victims to feel extremely guilty when the time finally comes to place their parent in a facility due to the progression of the stages of alzheimers.
I know it was really tough for my siblings and myself.
I remember the day we dropped her off, she cried (and so did we), and when the time came for us to leave she asked us "where are you all going? why can't I come with you?" -it was very hard
...it really tore us up.
However, you have to keep in mind you are only doing what you must do, and what is in their best interest.
-It is actually an act of love to your mom or dad to make decisions on their behalf that will ensure they receive the very best treatment and the best facility possible. (we checked many -some weren't so great)
On our very first visit after dropping her off, we wanted to take her for a ride for breakfast -she didn't want to go, she wanted to stay with her new friends.
-You cannot imagine how good that made us all feel!
If you feel guilty about your decision, or just find that you need to talk to someone, you really should seek out a local support group in your area for people who have a parent or loved one with alzheimers - it can truly be a godsend.
-Some Final Thoughts...
A stranger once told us during a family walk "appreciate her while she's still with you, she'll be gone soon enough" ...it's so true!
-Mom always had chapped lips, and somewhat mysteriously she always managed to get lipstick on the cuffs of her blouses?
It turns out she was putting lipstick on her fingernails, and applying nail polish to her lips!
We remember these funny things she did - it kept us all sane at the time!
An Alzheimer's Request
Do not ask me to remember.
Don't try to make me understand.
Let me rest, and know you're with me.
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
I'm confused beyond your concept.
I am sad, sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you.
To be with me at all costs.
Please, do not lose your patience with me.
Do not scold me or curse or cry.
I can't help the way I'm acting.
I can't be different, though I try.
Just remember that I need you.
And, that the best of me is gone.
Please, don't fail to stand beside me.
And love me till life is done.
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